13TSB_ACT: Lobster Grower - Develop the technology to fast track the aquaculture potential for the European Lobster

Lead Research Organisation: University of Exeter
Department Name: Engineering Computer Science and Maths

Abstract

The project relates specifically to primary livestock production of a high value marine species and aims to put in place an essential base of both knowledge and aqua farming infrastructure to enable economical and low carbon 'green' European Lobster farming. This early stage development project will develop initial design Sea Based Container Culture (SBCC) system solutions with the end aim to inform about production criteria of final prototypes that can be tested at an industry scale at a later stage.

Preliminary sea based lobster trials conducted by The Notional Lobster Hatchery (NLH) using containers designed for rearing oyster spat have already shown good short term survival and growth of lobsters in individual containers. Despite initial success, the preliminary trials have highlighted some deficiencies in container designs that have resulted in variation in growth and survival, as well as high number of man hours required to deploy, monitor, retrieve and maintain containers. The trial identified that the economic viability was limited and that the mean survival rate varied directly with flow. Animals in containers with the greatest exchange of seawater demonstrated survival rates of up to 90% compared with approximate 30% in containers allowing lower flow rates. A re-design of the system in term of shape, material, surface area of culture containers enabling necessary fluid flows and technical production processes, which will allow the economical farming of the European lobster.

This early stage development project is designed to address the deficiencies identified in this preliminary study through a scientific assessment of specific designs. In order to inform about necessary growing and survival criteria that will allow the farming of the European Lobster the expertise from bioscience and fluid dynamic technologies will be combined. Whilst the biological context will provide growth and survival criteria, flow pattern for Sea Based Container Culture (SBCC) systems that provide necessary growth and survival rates will be investigated experimentally. A special hydrodynamic test facility based at the University of Exeter' Cornwall Campus will be used to investigate if SBCC designs provide the necessary flow patterns. In order to measure and visualise the flow around and within SBCC superstructures and inner container designs non-intrusive or part-intrusive 2D or 3D point measurement of velocity and turbulence distribution in both free flows and internal flow techniques will be used, such as LDA-LDV and hot wire anemometry methods.

It is intended to test four superstructures, which will have different stiffness, access, shape and consequently flow characteristics. The inner containers will be tested individually to understand the change in flow as a consequence of i) different shape designs and ii) blockage criteria caused e.g. through marine growth. Four different inner container designs will be initially investigated and the most suitable design will be further investigated regarding the impact through blockage by blocking a quantified percentage of the holes. Finally the full CBSS system will be investigated as a combination of superstructure and inner containers. The outcomes will be assessed based on scientific findings and used to provide the necessary evidence to develop a final prototype that can be tested at sea trials at later stage.

Technical Summary

The project relates specifically to primary livestock production of a high value marine species and aims to put in place an essential base of both knowledge and aqua farming infrastructure to enable economical and low carbon 'green' European Lobster farming. This early stage development project will develop initial design Sea Based Container Culture (SBCC) system solutions with the end aim to inform about production criteria of final prototypes that can be tested at an industry scale at a later stage.

Preliminary sea based lobster trials conducted by The Notional Lobster Hatchery (NLH) using containers designed for rearing oyster spat have already shown good short term survival and growth of lobsters in individual containers. Despite initial success, the preliminary trials have highlighted some deficiencies in container designs that have resulted in variation in growth and survival, as well as high number of man hours required to deploy, monitor, retrieve and maintain containers. The trial identified that the economic viability was limited and that the mean survival rate varied directly with flow. Animals in containers with the greatest exchange of seawater demonstrated survival rates of up to 90% compared with approximate 30% in containers allowing lower flow rates. A re-design of the system in term of shape, material, surface area of culture containers enabling necessary fluid flows and technical production processes, which will allow the economical farming of the European lobster.

This early stage development project is designed to address the deficiencies identified in this preliminary study through a scientific assessment of specific designs. In order to inform about necessary growing and survival criteria that will allow the farming of the European Lobster the expertise from bioscience and fluid dynamic technologies will be combined.

Planned Impact

In the joint policy paper published on the 22nd of July 2013 by the Department for Business Innovation & Skills, the Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs and the Department for International Development, it is identified that agricultural science and technology is rapidly becoming one of the world's fastest growing and exciting markets. It is also stated that the UK's food export in 2012 was in the order of £18 billion and that the entire agri-food contributes £96 billion or 7% of gross value to the UK, with an employment value to agriculture and fishing being of the order of £3.8 million. In order for the UK to hold its position as a strong producer and supplier of agriculture products and services it is essential to pursue the technology revolution within the sector, which has been described within the policy paper to be driven by global changes such as i) a rising population, ii) a rapid development of emerging economies with western lifestyle aspirations and iii) a growing geopolitical instability around shortages of land, water and energy.

This project seeks to address primary livestock production and food security issues, taking steps towards introducing a novel candidate species for aquaculture, the European lobster. It has the potential to generate a new UK-led industry sector that will help support the ever increasing protein demands brought about by rising global populations, whilst having a significant economical impact. The European lobster is a high value species that is not currently exploited in the aquaculture sector: fisheries are limited and therefore demand exceeds supply. In 2004 it was predicted that only 4.3% of the estimated demand for the European lobster was being met and the estimated market for the European lobster was around 70,000 ton per year. Supply is limited to approximately 3,000 ton per year. Thus there is a clear market opportunity for aquaculture to fill the demand supply deficit.

The proposed project aims to tae social challenges such as primary livestock production and food security, by implementing the foundation required to make available a novel candidate aquaculture species, the European Lobster. Currently technical and economical challenges prohibit the species from being farmed. Overcoming these challenges will enable the growth of a new agricultural sector within the UK, providing a valuable human protein source at minimal unit cost and creating wealth and jobs in vulnerable coastal communities.

A number of fundamental topics will be addressed during the project that will have an academic impact in the area of food security. The research outcomes will be knowledge transferable into the fluid dynamics and bioscience field and are expected to be widely publicised. It is likely that this project could be followed by an industry scale project, generating potentially future R&D projects that would allow to continue on this research work at UoE and could lead potentially to PhD studentships.

Publications


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Description The Lobster Grower one project work has addressed the design studies of a much needed technical innovation of Sea Based Container Culture (SBCC) as part of a semi-intensive, passive aquaculture culture system for farming of the European lobster (Homarus gammarus). Influencing factors towards the growth and survival rates are considered such as internal flow rates and turbulence intensity as well as container dynamics. Available information on flow rate requirements for optimal development of the European lobster have been obtained from the literature to inform the design decisions.
The internal velocities and external flow patterns for different SBCC designs have been measured and used to inform design decisions. Suitable graphical representations have been developed to assess SBCC systems on specific performance criteria related to growth and survival parameters. The different internal flow patterns were demonstrated for new and fouled SBCC containers and conclusion have been made towards the suitability of the individual container designs.
In order to achieve the aims and objectives of the work an experimental hydrodynamic study has been performed at a current flume facility based at the University of Exeter. To inform the suitability of SBCC systems that provide best growth and survival conditions the following task have been performed:
1a) Measurement of the internal flow patterns at different flow velocities, angles of attack (AoA) and percentage coverage due to biofouling.
1b) Development of a graphical methodology to inform best design configuration, presenting internal flow patterns and, upper and lower velocity limits.
2a) Visualise and assess motion characteristics (allowing only motions in two dimension; X- and Y-axis coordinates) caused by external flow velocities.
2b) Analyse and rate the SBCC systems based on their motion characteristics towards potential impact of lobster development and recommendation methods to reduce excessive SBCC container motion.
The experiments performed on the SBCC systems have led to redesigning certain aspects of the SBCC systems; therefore, the first area of further work is to retest the second version designs. This will show whether or not the redesigns have resolved the issues, such as the poor X-axis flow velocities of SBCC 2 with 66% biofouling.
Further work could also include new test parameters; e.g. pitch AoA or waves. Furthermore, the input velocity could be reduced below 0.1 m/s to investigate the laminar-turbulent transition. End plates could be removed to explore the flow through SBCC systems at the top and bottom of SBCC stacks.
The final aspect of further work involves gaining a better understand of lobsters farming in real sea conditions. A follow up project was granted that will implement these studies.
Exploitation Route The National Lobster Hatchery, based in Padstow, has, along with consortium partners, been awarded funding for a £3m research project from Innovate UK and BBSRC. This will make a series of breakthroughs in the science and technology associated with lobster culture, which will help Europe catch up with the rest of the world in terms of growing its own sea food.

Working with consortium partners that include the University of Exeter, Westcountry Mussels of Fowey, The Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) and Falmouth University, the three-year project, known as Lobster Grower 2, will focus on the European lobster by developing the technology and science for growing lobsters at sea. It is thought that long term an industry will develop, providing a new product, with a separate market from that supplied by the fishery and therefore creating market diversification and generating additional jobs and wealth in coastal communities.

This pivotal project unlocks the potential for industry specialists and scientists to work together to address global food security in a sustainable and environmentally-friendly way. Crucially, it could pave the way not just to providing nutritious food to many millions more people worldwide, but also bring new and exciting employment opportunities as well. The University of Exeter is implementing field studies to study the well-being of the lobsters, potential environmental impacts and leads on engineering developments

http://www.nationallobsterhatchery.co.uk/national-lobster-hatchery-bags-major-research-grant-for-cornwall-and-the-south-west/

This pivotal LG1 project unlocked the potential for industry specialists and scientists to work together to address global food security in a sustainable and environmentally-friendly way; developing passive aquaculture culture system for farming of the European lobster (Homarus gammarus). Crucially, it could pave the way not just too providing nutritious food to many millions more people worldwide, but also bring new and exciting employment opportunities as well.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink
URL http://www.nationallobsterhatchery.co.uk/could-lobster-farming-become-a-new-industry-for-coastal-areas/
 
Description The successful outcome of LG1 has led to the InnovateUK and BBSRC funded £3million LG2 project that will make a series of breakthroughs in the science and technology associated with lobster culture, which will help Europe catch up with the rest of the world in terms of growing its own sea food. The LG1 project addressed the Sea Based Container Culture (SBCC) design for the farming of the European Lobster. The European Lobster is a currently unexploited aquaculture species, although some sea based systems have been examined elsewhere in Europe, the US and Canada, these projects utilise existing SBCC systems developed for oyster culture and are examining the potential of stock enhancement rather than aquaculture and therefore are not innovative. However, despite initial success, the preliminary trials highlighted some deficiencies in container designs, resulting in growth and survival variations and excessive man hours. A re-design of the system in term of shape, material, surface area of culture containers enabling necessary fluid flows and technical production processes was carried out in LG1. This has led to the LG2 project (http://www.nationallobsterhatchery.co.uk/national-lobster-hatchery-bags-major-research-grant-for-cornwall-and-the-south-west/) that will undertake sea test including the SBCC innovations generated in LG1 and make further holistic SBCC technical innovations. These issues will be embark upon by addressing primary livestock production and food security, through the development of innovative solutions and field demonstration required to establish a commercial solution making available a novel candidate aquaculture species, the European Lobster. This project focuses on developing three priority areas for commercial European lobster aquaculture: 1) field testing and development of innovative technical solutions, 2) development of an Aqua-economic model and: 3) de risking of farming operations. The European lobster is a high value species with a significant supply deficit and a limited fisheries production capacity. The development of a lobster aquaculture industry will generate wealth and jobs in vulnerable coastal communities and contribute towards food security issues. Lobster Grower 2 (LG2), a follow on project from the successful first stage project: Lobster Grower 1 (LG1), aims to implement field tests and evaluate innovations generated in LG1, whilst developing and testing further innovations related to anchoring systems. A specific objective of LG2 will be to develop an 'aqua-economic' model based on operations of a pilot scale lobster farm. This will be based upon a detailed technical and economic evaluation of the pilot farm's operation, utilising the developed innovative approach. This economic predictive tool will enable and encourage entrepreneurs and potential investors to enter into commercial production with a reduced economic and technical risk. A significant component of the project will also focus on de-risking key environmental risks associated with livestock farming, which if not addressed would represent further commercial risk. A patent has been filed for the container design taken forward for testing in LG2: UK Patent Application No. 1605479.3 (filing date of 31 March 2016). Additional IP generated in LG consisted of designs not taken forward to production stage (these will be kept confidential by the consortium and may aid SBCC developments following practical testing in LG2). The collaborative project was a success and fulfilled all deliverables set out at in the second level project plan. The overriding goal of the project was to develop and fast tracking novel technology suitable for on-growing lobsters, the project fulfilled this by; • producing a container specifically designed for rearing European Lobster (based on a literature review that assessed requirements of the species) at sea in a passive, low carbon system known as sea based container culture (SBCC). The project produced a product that could be field tested in later sea based trials, producing the injection moulded tooling that has enabled mass production of prototypes for field testing. • Setting in place the licences and permissions (an environmental scoping assessment was conducted to support applications) as well as a patent being filed on the SBCC container. • Securing future funding for an Industrial stage project (Lobster Grower 2 - LG2) that will field test and further develop the holistic SBCC system assessing the technical, environmental, economic, social and commercial issues associated with this novel aquaculture industry. The project has had the desired impact in developing novel technology, though the outputs of this project have broader impact as the follow on project will now take steps towards developing a new industry by taking multi-disciplined approach to investigating the potential for a novel aquaculture industry. Additional project outputs not specified in the project plan include; • Dissemination at a national and international level that raised the profile of the potential for aquaculture development in the UK and beyond • As well as securing collaborative links between partner organisations that will aid the future commercialisation of the projects outcomes. • Highlighting and clarifying the regulatory issues that the novel sector will face, which will in turn aid future industrial development, this will then be an essential tool for trailblazers entering the industry. • Securing the funds for a follow on project (LG2) which will maintain the momentum of industrial development, by the end of the project the consortium aims to have generated further innovative products, obtained data from field trials that will provide information to roadmap further technical and policy interventions and generate an aqua-economic model to facilitate investment. • Longer term the outcomes of both the early stage and industrial stage projects will set in place the knowledge, skills and know how to develop an aquaculture industry that has potential to grow as a sector following future investment. The promise of high profit margins make the European lobster a very promising candidate species for aquaculture, however, intensive land based production of marketable sized lobsters is not currently economically feasible. Trials in Norway at the Norwegian Lobster Farm (Drengstig and Bergheim, 2013) have recently illustrated the technological potential for the world's first land based recirculating farm; but there is still a lack of appropriate technological development in systems design, married to inappropriate economies of scale. The development of a novel aquaculture industry could have huge impact on the UK economy economic assessment of potential industry predicts that in 2004 it was predicted that only 4.3% of the estimated demand for the European lobster was being met and the estimated market was around 120,000 tons per year. Supply is limited to approximately 3,000 tons per year. Thus there is a clear market opportunity for aquaculture to fill the demand supply deficit (Drenstig and Bergheim, 2013). The production of such a novel industry will also benefit wider communities by job creation at lobster farms and hatcheries as well as companies that produce the container systems. This sector may also help provide opportunity for fishermen to diversify into seafood production, which in turn may help regenerate coastal communities and offer opportunities for increased shore based work during periods of bad weather when it's not possible to go to sea. Lobster Grower has not only added to the UK economy through spend that would not have taken place without the support of the Agri-Tech catalyst funding, but has many legacy benefits. These benefits are clear with a further 3-year project from the Agri-Tech Catalyst Industrial stage awards being secured, Lobster Grower 2, which will take this novel industry closer to commercialisation; further increasing UK turnover, advancing UK expertise, technology and commercial knowledge, create new jobs and help secure investments in the aquaculture and research markets. The results of this project have been disseminated through many public and scientific means both nationally and internationally, see some dissemination details below: Press release published; West Briton, Cornish Guardian, Fishing News, Fish Update, The fish site, world fishing and aquaculture, Hatchery International, Intrafish. Numerous trade publications and presentations; English aquaculture plan working group 14th July 2015, 3rd March 2016. NLH Newsletter October 2015, Aug 2014 Numerous internal presentations at NLH The American Lobster in a Changing Ecosystem II. 3rd-6th November 2015. 2nd Annual International Conference of Fisheries and Aquaculture 2015, 25th-27th August 2015. 10th International Workshop on Lobster Biology and Management, 18th - 23th May 2014. Resilience in Agri-Food Systems, 12 June 2014. 2nd annual Partnership for Research in Marine Renewable Energy (PRIMaRE) conference, 16th - 17th June. NLH Annual report 2015. Scientific Publication; C.L. Daniels, B. Wills, M. Ruiz-Perez, E. Miles, R. W. Wilson, D. Boothroyd (2015) Development of sea based container culture for rearing European Lobster (Homarus gammarus) around South West England. Aquaculture. 448, p186-195. Halswell, P., Daniels, C., Johanning, L., (2016). Sea Based Container Culture (SBCC) hydrodynamic design assessment for European lobsters (Homarus gammarus). Aquaculture Engineering. under review. Halswell, P., Daniels, C., Johanning, L., (2016). Evaluation of current and wave patterns for Sea Based Container Culture (SBCC) of European lobsters (Homarus gammarus). Aquaculture. Awaiting completion. It is also envisaged that the literature review will be published as a book chapter to make this information publically available.
First Year Of Impact 2016
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink
Impact Types Societal,Economic
 
Description Lobster Grower 2
Amount £804,000 (GBP)
Funding ID BB/M005194/1 
Organisation Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) 
Department BBSRC Impact Award
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 02/2016 
End 01/2019
 
Description MoU between CEFAS and University of Exeter 
Organisation Centre For Environment, Fisheries And Aquaculture Science (CEFAS)
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution The work implemented by myself and by the research team I'm leading has resulted in a request to implement a MoU
Collaborator Contribution Work on four research projects with CEFAS lead to this partnership.
Impact InnovateUK and BBSRC funded Lobster Grower (LG2) project.
Start Year 2016